James Goodwin McManus was born in Hartford, Connecticut on February 5, 1882. He studied art under W.G. Bunce, Montague Flagg, Robert B. Brandegee, and Walter Griffin. He would become one of the most influential local artists in Connecticut. In 1910 he helped found the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts and was its president from 1935 until 1938. He was also president of the Hartford Salmagundians. McManus was a member of the Springfield Art League, Lyme Art Association, Salmagundi Club, New Haven Paint and Clay Club, and the Connecticut Art Association. He won the Alice C. Dunham and popular prize in 1923, the Cooper prize in 1929, and the Connecticut Academy of Fine Art’s Bunce prize in 1930 and 1933. He was an instructor at Hartford Public High School and the Connecticut League of Art Students. He began working for the WPA Federal Arts Project in April 1936, but received no salary working as a “non-relief” artist until July 1940, when he left the project. McManus completed 32 easel works that were allocated to the Children’s Community Center in New Haven, Danbury Normal School, Undercliff Sanatorium, Center School in Windham, Pequot School in Southport, Board of Park Commissioners, Hartford Park Department, Hamden High School, Cedarcrest Sanatorium, the Teacher’s Club in Manchester, Rocky Hill Soldiers’ Home, Beach Park School in West Hartford, the State Teacher’s College in New Haven, and the Hartford Adult School. In 1954 the Wadsworth Athenaeum held a one man show of his work. McManus died on September 5, 1958, and is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Hartford.
Sources: WPA Artist’s Work Card; WPA Biography; AskART; WPA Art Project Bulletin, July 1940; [Photo Standalone], HartfordCourant, August 16, 1925; “Carl Ringius Painted by J. G. McManus,” Hartford Courant, June 16, 1932; “McManus’s Brush Paid High Tribute,”Hartford Courant, March 15, 1936; [Photo Standalone], Hartford Courant, May 24, 1935;”Art Teacher Long With Adult School,”Hartford Courant, September 25, 1947; John A. Maher, “Memoirs of the Connecticut Art League,” Hartford Courant, April 25, 1948; “Young Bohemian,” Hartford Courant, March 26, 1954; “Local Artist Honored by [Wadsworth] Atheneum,” Hartford Courant, April 4, 1954; “McManus’s Art Sums Up His Heritage,” Hartford Courant, April 23, 1954; “James G. MacManus Dies; Nationally Known Artist,” Hartford Courant, September 6, 1958.